Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Supporting Chicago Designers

I'm a huge supporter of Chicago artists, but this lady especially needs our love.

Last week, Chicago jewlery designer tru.che was informed that Urban Outfitters "borrowed" a line of her necklaces and is now selling it at their stores. They even stole the item name and some of her copy!!! How awful!

The silver lining is that she's recieved so much support and so many orders that it's taking her a bit longer to create and ship items. No matter! Here are some of my favs:
Photos and designs by tru.che (NOT Urban Outfitters!)

Be sure to stop by tru.che and check out more of her awesome creations.

Friday, May 27, 2011

It's A "Three Day Weekend" Kind of Weekend! YAY!

I have new sundresses, new shades and SPF 45....I'm ready for Memorial Day weekend! I'll be hitting up Randolph Street Market Festival on Saturday thanks to the two free tickets I won from Tara at Haute Lunch. Then the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival, a Chicago Rush game to see my little sis jump around in booty shorts (she's one of the team's dancers) and a little Memorial Day barbecue. Not too shabby for Chicago Quirk!

Chicago beaches open today!!
I absolutely LOVE spending a Saturday afternoon hanging out at a lakefront beach. I like Montrose Beach since it's a less crowded, but there's much more eye candy and lively activity at North Avenue and Oak Street Beach. Either way, you can now get your beach on until September 5. (Although I'm such a wuss that I won't actually go in the water until August. Too cold!)

Being unemployed last year sucked, but at least I had some nice beach days!

Don't forget about Bike the Drive. Yes, I wussed out, but that doesn't mean you have to! (Note to self: maybe do something to prepare for a 30-mile ride...like actually get on a bike.)

And if you're looking for the perfect spot for a Memorial Day picnic, Time Out Chicago suggests these spots. I personally love Oz Park and North Pond in Lincoln Park.

Photo by Alan Klehr

Happy Memorial Day weekend, everyone!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I miss Marshall Field's too, but...

When Macy's hacked away Chicago's beloved Marshall Field's in 2006, I was sad. I bought a button that said "I hate Macy's," and I voiced my opinion very loudly.

But I moved on.

I understand why Macy's did it, and despite the initial loss in sales I'm sure they're doing just fine. But there is an organization called FieldsFansChicago.org who is still pushing Macy's to bring back Marshall Field's.

The organization conducted a grassroots survey, asking participants three questions regarding their feelings about the Macy's takeover: Do you prefer Marshall Field's, Macy's or both about the same? Do you shop at the store more, less or about the same since the store became Macy's? Would you shop at the store more, less or about the same if the store was converted back to Marshall Field's from Macy's?

According to results explained in the organization's press release sent on Monday, 79 percent of people said they want Marshall Field's back. According to the release, they've presented these results to the Macy's CEO and Board of Directors.

I have to say that I want Marshall Field's back too, but I think this is called beating a dead horse. At least we still have Frango Mints!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Happy National Tap Dance Day!!!!

Yes, this is a real holiday, passed by the U.S. Congress in 1988. Why May 25? Because it's the birthday of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson:

Bill Robinson was the most famous of all African American tap dancers in the twentieth century, and tap dancers around the world honor him and that art form every year.

Even though it's only celebrated for one day, there are performances and classes happening all month long throughout the country. (I was in a National Tap Day Show at the Old Town School of Folk Music this past Saturday.) Check out the International Tap Association website for the event nearest you.

And now for your viewing pleasure, a few great moments in tap history:

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Kreativ Blogger

I got an award! YAY! The lovely and talented Miss Tara at Haute Lunch presented me with the Kreative blogger award:

THANK YOU, and, as customary, I'll present 10 facts about myself and pass this along to 10 awesome bloggers:

1. I've been tap dancing since I was two, and I'm currently an apprentice with a professional tap company in Chicago. Fingers crossed they'll bring me on as a full company member!
2. Alpacas are my favorite animal. I know it seems weird, but they're so sweet, and they make really good pets. Should I ever find myself living on a large plot of land, I plan to buy two and name them Laverne and Shirley.
3. I won't eat at restaurants that I feel have gross names. e.g. Macaroni Grill, Sweet Tomatoes, Applebees
4. If you google my name you'll see pages of blog and tap dancing mentions and then a bunch of serious press releases and PR stuff. Even though both of these things are me, it looks like they're from two different people who probably wouldn't be friends.
5. I love petting zoos and feeding ducks.
6. I love food, but I'm not sure you could consider my a foodie. Maybe a food-all?
7. I generally hate reality TV shows that make crazy people into celebrities, but I LOVE the Bad Girls Club.
8. When I text people, I use correct grammar and punctuation. But then sometimes I feel pretentious, and I go back and make it less grammatically correct.
9. I like babies, but I'm sort of afraid of them. There weren't many babies around when I was growing up, and I wasn't allowed to go near my baby cousins, so I'm not quite sure what to do with them. And I prefer not to hold newborns. What if I drop them?!!!!
10. I truly love living in Chicago, and I love writing about everything our amazing city has to offer!

Here are the 10 Kreativ-with-a-'K'-minus-the-'e' bloggers I'm presenting this award to:

 - Married in Chicago
 - TexaGermaNadian
 - Little Girl Big World
 - A Perfect Pairing
 - Breakfast at Toast
 - Loving the Little Things
 - Chicago Street Style
 - Man, Wife and Dog
 - A Lovely Escape
 - Chicago Cuisine Critic

Happy blogging!!! :)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Bike the Drive

Lake Shore Drive may be poorly designed, a nightmare during rush hour and a potential death trap (the giant gouges on the railing at the Oak Street curve always scare me), but you can't beat the views. I wish I could enjoy it more during my morning commute. So, this year I think I'm going to attempt Bike the Drive.

From 5:30 - 9:00 a.m. this Sunday morning Lake Shore Drive will be completely closed to vehicles, allowing registered bikers to ride from end to end. We're talking Bryn Mawr to the Museum of Science and Industry. There are several turn around spots in case you dont feel like riding 30 miles, and you can take a breather at the rest stops along the way.

All riders must start at the Columbus and Jackson, and you'll want to end your ride there for festivities in Grant Park. Registered riders can purchase a special breakfast prepared by Goose Island for $7. (One of the options is all-you-can-eat pancakes so that's not a bad deal.) A Blues Brothers tribute band will entertain while various vendors like Jamba Juice will sell their wares.

The event costs $45 and includes a fancy t-shirt. Click here to register. You can register the day of, but the cost goes up to $55 and doesn't include a t-shirt.

More event photos, from Windy Citizen
Fun Fact: Did you know that the downtown portion of Lake Shore Drive was originally opened as Leif Ericson Drive in 1937? It wasn't called Lake Shore Drive until 1946.

Friday, May 20, 2011

It's an "END OF THE WORLD" Kind of Weekend

This weekend's impending end of the world might put a damper on your plans, but I say we should party!

Tomorrow sounds like the perfect day to check out Dirty Betty's, Cookie Bar's new pop-up doughnut shop. Doughnuts available all day! And after you grab a delicious baked good, head straight down Lincoln to:

National Tap Day @ Old Town School of Folk Music - Saturday, May 21 7:30 p.m.
I know I listed another National Tap Day Show last week, but even though the holiday is actually on the 25th, the tap community puts up shows all month. And you should definitely make it to this one because I'm in it! Tickets are $20 and include performances by tap greats from all over the country.

Chill & Grill @ Lincoln Park (Stockton & Clark) - Saturday, May 21 11:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. & Sunday, May 22 12:00 - 5:00 p.m.
I love my apartment, but I wish I had a balcony or terrace to grill out on. I haven't heard of this festival before this year, but I'm super excited for delicious grilled foods. Tickets to this event are set up a bit like the Taste of Chicago; tickets are sold on a punch card. Each punch card has 12 "punches," and food and drinks are a certain amount of punches. (A restaurant tasting is 3 punches, a full-sized grilled item is 5 punches, etc.) Tickets are available online for $12 or at the festival for $15. You can also take various grilling classes at the event.

And if you're one of the many people hoping that Saturday will actual mark the beginning of the zombie apocolypse, be sure the check out the CDC's Zombie Survival Guide. I'm loving the CDC's PR/social media stunt. You can even grab an awesome button for your blog or website. Amazing!!!

Get A Kit,    Make A Plan, Be Prepared. emergency.cdc.gov

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Would You Wear a Knock-Off Wedding Dress?

It's wedding season! I do love this time of year, and even though I got married a few months ago I still find myself reaching for the latest CS Brides. (Chicago Brides: if you haven't grabbed a copy of this magazine, you absolutely should.)

We all know that finding that perfect dress ranks as one of the most important parts of planning your big day. But I read something today that produced a very extreme eye roll: Lord & Taylor is now selling knock-offs of Kate and Pippa's Royal Wedding ensembles.

The Royal Affair Collection

(I'd like to preface this with saying that I think the Duchess looked absolutely stunning in both her dresses, and her sister looked fabulous. I was actually surprised she was allowed to look that fabulous.)

I know that when a celebrity wears a showstopping dress, it sets a new trend and stores begin selling items inspired by the original. But an exact replica?! Everyone should be complimenting YOU on your wedding day; not discussing another bride's dress.

Desgined by ABS by Allen Schwartz, a retailer already famous for Oscar dress replicas, Lord & Taylor will begin selling these dresses in mid-July. The "Kate Bridal" dress will retail for $1,100, the "Catherine" second wedding dress will go for $450 and Pippa's maid-of-honor dress will sell for $390.

Ladies, what do you think of these dresses?

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dirty Betty's

I don't really understand the doughnut craze, but I have to say I'm very excited for a new popular baked good. (I'm definitely over cupcakes.) I read yesterday that a new gourmet doughnut shop is opening in my favorite cookie bakery, Cookie Bar.

Dirty Betty's (LOVE the name!) opens today as a pop-up doughnut shop within Cookie Bar. They'll sell doughnuts from 7:00 - 10:00 a.m. Monday through Friday and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. - 10:00 p.m. The current menu will include old fashioned cinnamon sugar, old fashioned powered sugar, banana with chocolate nutella glaze, pomegranate glazed, lemon blueberry, chocolate toffee, espresso glazed, ginger with key lime glaze and peanut butter cup. Vegan and gluten-free options coming soon.

AND since these doughnuts are baked instead of fried, grab two! (or three, or four...)

(Hopefully they won't make 5 doughnuts and let people wait in line for two hours while they sell out, claiming it's NOT a marketing strategy. All while tweeting about how awesome they are. I'm not bitter.)

And if you haven't been to Cookie Bar, I would definitely get over there. There's something about cookies where no matter how fancy the ingredients, it's still a comfort food. When I first went in there I thought for sure they'd close within the year - how many different cookies can you make? - but they're still going strong. And in addition to their regular day hours, Cookie Bar is open until 10:00 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday, offering a build-your-own ice cream sandwich bar.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Chicago Quirk's Favorite Things: Francesca's Collections

As I've mentioned before, I'm mostly a t-shirt and jeans type of gal. This is A) because I really like wearing t-shirts and jeans and B) because I don't have much confidence in my ability to put items together. My cutest ensembles have been a result of me buying an entire outfit off of a mannequin. This is why I love Francesca's Collections.

Left: Garden Critters Ring Middle: Pretty in Prints Right: Very Berry Dress
I hate when you get into a store and find a cute piece here and there, but it's hard to visualize an outfit. (Maybe it's just me...) Francesca's Collections has your whole outfit from start to finish with affordable items and accessories. And the people who work at the stores know what they're doing, and they offer such good advice.

Now, until I started writing this post, I thought these boutiques were a Chicago thing - they do such an amazing job of making everything look like a neighborhood spot - but it's actually a national chain based in Texas! Who knew!

I think I'm going to head over there this weekend to pick up a few cute summer outfits. Have you been to Francesca's Collections?

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Thanks for the Press, Mayor Rahm" or "Check out the Blue Line Lounge"

Happy Monday!

Not so happy for me because I had a super fun night last night at the Blue Line Lounge in Bucktown. The post-National Tap Day celebration with some of Chicago's best tap dancers left me a just hung over enough to where I need a couple Advil and a big glass of water. I was pleasantly surprised by the Blue Line Lounge. I've passed by there tons of times, but I assumed it would be a whatever place. But the menu and drink list were classier than I thought, and they have extremely comfortable seating. If it weren't for the Bulls game blaring on the the TVs it would have been perfect! (I'm such an old lady.)

Photos from Blue Line Lounge & Grill. If it wasn't FREEZING on Sunday night we could have sat outside!
 Meanwhile, I'm excited for Rahm Emanuel's innaugeration today! Are you watching it live at work? I wish I could go to the City Hall open house this afternoon.

I have to be honest and say that I'm most excited for the amount of press Chicago has been getting. (That's the PR person in me.) The world should know how awesome Chicago is!

Friday, May 13, 2011

It's a "Dirty Tap Dancing Bake Sale" Kind of Weekend

Blogger was down, Twitter is being stupid, my computer keeps freezing....not a good Friday the 13th for Andrea! But I'm heading to Green City Market tomorrow to kick off my weekend of relaxation and NOT having to drive to the suburbs. YAY!

Down & Dirty Romeo & Juliet @ Justins - Saturday, May 15 7:00 p.m.
Yeah, you've seen the Leonardo DiCaprio version, and you probably had to read it in high school, but have you ever been in it? Shattered Globe Theater does a very interesting take on this classic, presenting 14 actors who know the lines and the roles, but the audience gets to cast the show. If you don't like it, swap the actor out for another one. And audince members can join as various Montagues and Capulets. Sounds fun to me!

Chicago Food Blogger Bake Sale @ The Poison Cup - Saturday, May 14 12:00 p.m.
Chicago food bloggers like West of the Loop, EZ Bake Oven, Not A Crazy Vegan, Blondie's Cakes, Joy's Misadventures, Engineer and an Oven, Chef Druck Musing, NBC Feast, The Pink Apron will participate in the National Food Blogger Bake Sale on Saturday. Enjoy these blogger's homebaked goods and proceeds will go towards Share our Strength, a non-profit that strives to end childhood hunger. Check out the gluten-free and vegan options and the wine tasting.

National Tap Dance Day @ DuSable Museum of African American History - Sunday, May 15 5:00 p.m.
One thing you probably don't know about me is that I'm a tap dancer. Tap dance is such an amazing art form, and unfortunately too many people don't know much more than what they learned in 2nd grade dance class. If you want to experience the Chicago tap scene and some of the most fabulous tap dancing ladies in the entire world - including the incredible Dianne Walker - check out the National Tap Dance Day show put on by the Chicago Human Rhythm Project this Sunday.

And to give you a tap preview, check out this video of today's tap greats Jason Samuels Smith, Chloe Arnold, John Klauss, Yokiko, Tre Dumas and Dianne Walker.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Your Blog Can Be Carbon Neutral

Since starting my dreaded reverse commute, my carbon footprint has gone way up. I used to go weeks without sitting on the expressway, using only public transporation to get around. Even though my car is pretty darn fuel efficient, I still feel bad. (I feel even worse when I spend $50 a week on gas, but that's a different topic...)

I was surfing the blogosphere yesterday, and a post by The Usual Shenanigans caught my eye; there's a way to make your blog carbon neutral! All I have to do is blog about it, and a tree will be planted for me!

kauf DA, a German non-profit, has created the "My Blog is Carbon Neutral" program, urging bloggers to spread the word. All you have to do is blog about the initiative and place this nifty little badge on your blog:

and a tree will be planted in Plumas National Forest in Northern California by the Arbor Day Foundation. The national forest was devastated by wildfires in 2007, and the goal is to re-forest the area.

You might be wondering how it's possible for your blog to have a carbon footprint? Well, the computers and servers that host your blog chew up a lot of power, and your readers are using electricity whenever they click on your blog. I never thought about it, but think of the amount of energy that's using up!

Click here to read more about how you can participate.

I'm going to pretend that this is what the forest looks like:

Friday, May 6, 2011

It's a "Bake Sale and Boobs" Kind of Weekend

I know most of you will be spending the weekend with mama, but take a gander at some of these happenings.***

Great American Bake Sale @ The Butcher & the Larder - Saturday, May 7 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.
Who doesn't love an old fashioned bake sale? Especially when you can buy goodies from places like Hoosier Mama and Floriole. This cash only sale benefits Share Our Strength, a national non-profit aimed at ending childhood hunger in America. You can also bid on some fab online auctions items until the day of the event.

Free Museum Admission with Your Bank of America Card - First weekend of the month
I didn't know this, but apparently the first weekend of every month you can present your Bank of America credit or debit card to the Art Instistue, the Chicago History Museum, the DuSable Museum of African American History, the Museum of Contemporary Art or the Shedd Aquarium for free general admission.

Ever since the drama of 10 Bells getting put down right on the track a few years ago, I'm not really into the Derby. (I may have been crying at my table at The Fifty/50. I really love animals.) But if you're looking for a party to don your fancy Derby hat, check out the round-up from CenterStage Chicago.

Did you ever want to be a burlesque dancer? Gorilla Tango Theater is hosting audtions for "Boobs and Goombas: A Super Mario Burlesque" and  "A Nude Hope: A Star Wars Burlesque."

This past Thursday I took a break from dive bars and quirky venues for a night on the town with some fabulous Chicago bloggers at Rockit on Hubbard. The inner class nerd in me always gets excited for super trendy places like this, and my inner fat kid was happy with the amazing truffle fries. Check out some photos of the event below, taken by the fab Danielle of Breakfast At Toast.

And while you're at your computer this weekend, visit their fantastic blogs:

The Dailey Dish

***I will no longer make weather predictions in these weekend guides. I'm worse than the Weatherman.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Taste of Chicago Just Kicked It Up a Notch

I'm all about the Tast of Chicago, but it's usually the same vendor every year. Not that I don't love O'Brien's or Lou Malnati's, but how many times can you pay for a 'taste portion' of deep dish with $5 worth of tickets?

The Chicago Park District - the new Taste owners - put out their list of vendors for this year's event, and I'm both impressed and excited! In addition to the old favs, you'll see Alhambra Palace, Banana Leaf Restaurant, Beggars Pizza, Chicago Sweet Connection Bakery, The Fudge Pot, Lao Sze Chuan, Loving Hut, Parrot Cage Restaurant, Ryba’s Fudge Shops, Smoke Daddy, Starfruit CafĂ© and Texas de Brazil. And if you want to start "Tasting" early, you can visit the participating restaurants from May 28 - 30 and get special discounts at each location.

Via About.com Taste of Chicaog photo gallery
It seems that the Chicago Park District has the right idea with their Taste improvements. Check out a few of the highlights:

 - Each vendor will now offer two "Taste Of" portions for $2 or less. (For non-Taste goers, a taste portion is a smaller and cheaper portion of food the restaurant offers.)

 - If you're trying to eat healty at the Taste (which is the dumbest idea I've ever heard) keep an eye out for the Humana Healthier Choices green apple icon on the vendors' menus. It indicates healtheir food choices.

 - Instead of waiting in the loooonnnnngggg line to get your food tickets, you can buy them in advanced at Dominick's when you show your Frest Values Card. Tickets will be sold in strips of 12 for $8, but if you buy them at Dominick's from June 16 - 23 they're $6 per strip.

 - There will be more Taste parking lots available at a discounted rate, and you can take the free trolley from the lots to the event. Although if you can use public transporation, I definitely would.

Are you going to the Taste of Chicago this year? Have you gone before? What's your favorite vendor?

Photo from Wee Windy City

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Your Neighborhood's History

I feel like I'm perpetually apartment/house hunting even though I have absolutely no need (money) to move. For the most part I don't trust any sort of apartment hunting service, but I'm a fan of Domu. I check out the site and follow them on Twitter, but I recently found a bonus on their website; a Chicago History Maps page that points out landmarks and historical sites in every neighborhood.

As much as I love my neighborhood, East Lakeview, I figured not too much history took place here. But I looked it up and found some great tidbits:

The Jamba Juice at the corner of Clark and Diversey was actually a jazz club called The Rendez-Vous Cafe. Famous jazz musicians played here and Louis Armstrong even recorded records in the back room.

The L&L Tavern at Clark and Belmont, a place so divey that even I haven't gone in, was one Jeffrey Dahmer's favorite bars and John Wayne Gacy once stopped by in full clown costume. Is it sick that this place is now at the top of my list?

Apparently Jack's on Halsted used to be the Helmand restaurant, a restaurant owned by Afghan President Hamid Karzai and his brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai in the 1990s.

Check out your neighborhood. Find anything interesting?

By the way, this is my current dream home.

Monday, May 2, 2011

"Xtreme Trampolines" or "How to Feel Old on Your Birthday"

I've been a busy busy Chicago Quirk lately, but I have lots more activities and venues to tell you about.

Friday night was my friend's 29th birthday, and she decided to go to Xtreme Trampolines. Yes, another suburban venue, but, alas, it seems that most of my friends have migrated out to suburbia.

I had to pick up the husband from the train before we went over, and fortunately the station was right next to Lilacia Park. I was worried that the weather would have a negative effect on the precious lilacs, and unfortunatley it seems that it has. There weren't any lilacs in bloom! The Lilac Festival runs throughout the month, so hopefully the little guys will perk up. There were some other pretty flowers though:

On to Xtreme Trampoline. This place is nuts.

This trampoline Mecca was littered with sweaty high schoolers flipping in ways that would snap me in half. Observe the photo below of the kid flying through the air.

Meanwhile my friends are just laughing and trying not to fall over.
What I couldn't get on camera was this kid landing on his feet, going into a back flip and then bouncing to the other side and doing the same thing. I would get severly motion sick if I tried that. I pretty much just jumped up and down the whole time.

I could kick myself for not taking pictures of the foam pit. There's a section of this warehouse-like space that has two rows of trampolines and then a massive pit of foam cubes. It looked soooooo much fun! That is, until you're actually about to hurl yourself in. My flight or fight instinct kicked in the minute I was in the air and I sort of cat-twisted into the pit. I landed on my back and couldn't get up. After flailing around like a upturned beattle for a few minutes my friends had to pull me out.

We lasted about a half hour here. (You pay by the hour, but I don't know how they monitor that since they turn you loose the minute you pay.) The problem was that it was so filled to the brim with teenagers showing off and having their own dramatic moments that we felt out of place. I started to feel really old and uncool until one of my friends reminded me that we didn't need to hang out there; we could go buy alcohol.

All in all, this place could be a blast if they had an 18 and over night. Otherwise, I don't need to go back.